Multilocus sequence analysis of Streptococcus canis confirms the zoonotic origin of human infections and reveals genetic exchange with Streptococcus dysgalactiae subsp. equisimilis

J Clin Microbiol. 2013 Apr;51(4):1099-109. doi: 10.1128/JCM.02912-12. Epub 2013 Jan 23.


Streptococcus canis is an animal pathogen that occasionally causes human infections. Isolates recovered from infections of animals (n = 78, recovered from 2000 to 2010 in three European countries, mainly from house pets) and humans (n = 7, recovered from 2006 to 2010 in Portugal) were identified by phenotypic and genotypic methods and characterized by antimicrobial susceptibility testing, multilocus sequence typing (MLST), pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and emm typing. S. canis isolates presented considerable variability in biochemical profiles and 16S rRNA. Resistance to antimicrobial agents was low, with the most significant being tet(M)- and tet(O)-mediated tetracycline resistance. MLST analysis revealed a polyclonal structure of the S. canis population causing infections, where the same genetic lineages were found infecting house pets and humans and were disseminated in distinct geographic locations. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that S. canis was a divergent taxon of the sister species Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus dysgalactiae subsp. equisimilis and found evidence of acquisition of genetic material by S. canis from S. dysgalactiae subsp. equisimilis. PFGE confirmed the MLST findings, further strengthening the similarity between animal and human isolates. The presence of emm-like genes was restricted to a few isolates and correlated with some MLST-based genetic lineages, but none of the human isolates could be emm typed. Our data show that S. canis isolates recovered from house pets and humans constitute a single population and demonstrate that isolates belonging to the main genetic lineages identified have the ability to infect the human host, providing strong evidence for the zoonotic nature of S. canis infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Antigens, Bacterial / genetics
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing / methods*
  • Pets
  • Phylogeny*
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Streptococcal Infections / diagnosis*
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Streptococcal Infections / veterinary*
  • Streptococcus / classification*
  • Streptococcus / genetics
  • Streptococcus / isolation & purification
  • Zoonoses / microbiology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • streptococcal M protein

Associated data

  • GENBANK/JX876612
  • GENBANK/JX876613
  • GENBANK/JX876614
  • GENBANK/JX876615
  • GENBANK/JX876616
  • GENBANK/JX876617
  • GENBANK/JX876618
  • GENBANK/JX876619
  • GENBANK/JX876620
  • GENBANK/JX876621
  • GENBANK/JX876622
  • GENBANK/JX876623
  • GENBANK/JX876624
  • GENBANK/JX876625
  • GENBANK/JX876626
  • GENBANK/JX876627
  • GENBANK/JX876628
  • GENBANK/JX876629
  • GENBANK/JX876630
  • GENBANK/JX876631
  • GENBANK/JX876632
  • GENBANK/JX876633
  • GENBANK/JX876634
  • GENBANK/JX876635
  • GENBANK/JX876636
  • GENBANK/JX876637
  • GENBANK/JX876638
  • GENBANK/JX876639
  • GENBANK/JX876640
  • GENBANK/JX876641
  • GENBANK/KC291148